Anvils in America

By: Richard Postman

Price : $$$ – Amazon

Philip’s Ranking: 5
Beginner Blacksmith: 0
Advanced Blacksmith: 0
Inspiration: 0
Historical: 5

Video Review: N/A

Rated 0.0 out of 5
0.0 out of 5 stars (based on 0 reviews)
Very good0%

Anvils in America is the best reference book for identifying anvils in the United States.  The book also is an amazing resource on the history of key manufactures  manufactures of American anvils or anvils that are commonly found in the United States. 

  • Chapter 1: General Information About Anvils – pg 1
    • Parts of the Smith’s Anvil and Their Use
    • The Weight of Anvils
    • The Dating of Anvils
    • Anvil Patterns and Types
    • Materials and Methods of Anvil Manufacturing

Postman starts off in Chapter 1 spending roughly 40 pages on the history of anvils, the different patterns through time, and how anvils have been manufactured. This section provides the necessary background knowledge and terminology that is used through the rest of the book.  For example knowing for example how wrought iron anvils are built up from chunks of iron is useful if you are trying to determine if an anvil is wrought or cast.

  •    Chapter 2: Early American and Various European Anvils – pg 43
    • American Manufactured Anvils Before ca. 1850
    • Spanish Anvils
    • German Anvils
    • French Anvils
    • Swedish Anvils
      • Kohlswa
      • Soderfors
      • SISCO (Swedish Iron & Steel Co.)
      • North Star
  • Chapter 3: English Anvils – pg 67
    • Colonial English Anvils
    • English Anvils After 1800-“Old English”
    • Mousehole Forge
    • Peter Wright
    • William Foster
    • Wilkinson
    • Henry Wright
    • Modern English Anvils

Chapters 2 & 3 look at anvils that are commonly found in the United States but are not manufactured in the United States.

Several of these manufactures such as Mousehole & Peter Wright are some of the most popular anvils in early US history and relatively large numbers of them still remain and are seen on the secondary market. 

Throughout this book each major manufacturer receives a chapter that provides a history of the manufacturer including dates of operations, logos, and advertisements. For anyone who has spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on an antique anvil knowing the details around it’s age and manufacturer provide a sense of history.

  • Chapter 4: American Cast Anvils – pg 135
    • Cast-iron Anvils
    • Cast-iron Anvils with Steel Faces
      • Badger
      • Fisher & Norris
      • Samson
      • Southern Crescent
      • Star, American
      • Vulcan
    • Cast-steel Anvils
      • Columbian
    • Various Makes
      • Modern Cast Anvils
      • Miscellaneous Cast Anvils

I recently picked up a Vulcan anvil as part of an estate sale (YouTube Video) and wasn’t sure what type of anvil it was.  After cleaning it up and getting all the rust off I found the casting quality was incredibly poor. I certainly shared the opinion that antique anvils were probably pretty high quality and so how did this anvil that seemed to be a Vulcan anvil based on the logo have such poor manufacturing.  I originally thought that maybe this was a reproduction but after looking through Anvils in America I found out that Vulcan anvils were very low quality cheap anvils throughout their entire production period.  Now it made a lot more sense why this anvil looked the way it did.

Chapters 5 & 6 continue the same pattern as the previous chapters providing a look at more American manufacturers, their history, and their products. 

    • Chapter 5: American Wrought Anvils – pg 247
      • American
      • Arm & Hammer
      • Hay-Budden
      • Trenton
    • Chapter 6: Miscellaneous American Anvils – pg 391
      • Unknown and Miscellaneous Anvils
      • Special and Unusual Anvils
    • Chapter 7: Anvil Odds and Ends, and Trivia – pg 425
      • Marks on Anvils and Their Meaning
      • Striking the Anvil
      • Truth in Advertising Anvils
      • Anvil Myths
      • Anvil Stories
      • Music
      • Trivia
      • Anvil Logos, Motifs & Cartoons
      • Miscellaneous

Chapter 7 dives into, as it says, odds and ends related to anvils. Each section is interesting and many are pretty humorous.

The Appendix contains what I would consider more odds and ends like chapter 7.  One of the most useful sections of the book is Appendix A which is a 2 page guide to the identifying anvils and is invaluable to anyone buying antique anvils.

    • Appendix – pg 447-512
      • A: Quick Identification of Major Anvil Groups and Makes
      • B: Buying a New or Previously
      •  Owned Anvil
      • C: Setting Up the Smith’s Anvil for Use
      • D: Anvil Care, 
        Cleaning and Repair
      • E: The Ringing of the Anvil
      • F: Anvil Patents
      • G: Shooting or Blowing the Anvil
      • H: Treatise on Anvils from 1842
      • I: Ancient Bronze and Iron Anvils
      • J: The Use of the Sawmaker’s Anvil
      • K: Meteorite Anvils
      • L:  Miniature and Craft Anvils
      • M:  The 1898 Hay-Budden Article
      • N: ‘Anvils’ “Steel,” Nov. 14, 1932
      • O: Forging Anvils in Germany
      • P: Updated Information as of 1997

Overall Anvils in America is a must by reference book for anyone interested in the history of anvils.

The only complaint is that the book is over 20 years old at this point and there has been a resurgence of interest in blacksmithing and anvil manufacturing. An update covering the new common anvils seen in the US would be very welcome.

There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to write one.